Tag Archives: Daily Telegraph

Creeping fascism

England: subdivisions Muslim populationThe population of the UK is about 63 million, and fewer than 5% of the population are Muslim. (In Scotland, 1.4%.) Muslims are slightly more likely to express pride in being British than non-Muslims; are more likely to want to live in diverse, mixed neighbourhoods: and much more likely to identify themselves with Britain. (From a recent study carried out by the University of Essex.)

Muslims are not a majority religion in the UK, and mosques are more likely to be firebombed than churches. The most powerful and dangerous country in the world, whose religious extremism has caused more deaths than any other nation’s, has Christian conservatism at the heart of power, not Islam. The right-wing domestic terrorists of the EDL and SDL march against Islam: the BNP occasionally takes up pickets outside KFCs that provide halal chicken: we see a BBC Question Time panel debate veiled Muslim nurses for 20 minutes without ever asking themselves or the audience “has it ever happened that a nurse wanted to wear hijab on a ward”? Right-wing men go on rants claiming it’s a big feminist deal how Muslim women dress. (It is.) An anti-Islamic pressure group masquerading as a “student rights” organisation is funded by a neocon thinktank. And heavyweights like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph run media campaigns trying to convince people that it’s a very big deal if a shop assistant who prefers not to deal with wine or pork, has her religious preferences met with flexibility by her employer. Right-wingers who wouldn’t support LGBT rights or feminism against any Christian institution get all worked up over the hazards of “Islamic extremism” to women and to gay people.

When you have a right-wing political movement trying to blame all the ills of the country on “immigration”, and presenting a persecuted minority as if they were a huge danger, what does this look like to you?

Because I know what it looks like to me.

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Filed under In The Media, Racism, Religion

Maria Miller grinds slowly

Which member of the Privy Council is best qualified to be Chancellor of the Exchequer? It is not, obviously, George Osborne, who famously doesn’t even have O-grade maths and who is driving the UK into double-dip recession because he has no notion about economics beyond “tax cuts for the rich=GOOD”.

Oddly enough in a Tory Cabinet, it’s actually a comprehensive-school kid from Wales. Maria Miller, Minister for Women and Equalities

Maria Lewis went to Brynteg Comprehensive School/Ysgol Gyfun Brynteg in Bridgend and took a BSc in Economics at the LSE. (When she married Iain Miller in 1990 she took his surname and has stood for election as Maria Miller ever since.) She isn’t a crony of Cameron from the Bullingdon Club (they don’t let girls in), she didn’t go to Oxbridge, she wasn’t privately educated, and she didn’t marry into the web of privilege: she will never be one of the Secret Seven. I imagine as a member of the Conservative Party since she was 19 she’s got used to that kind of thing.

Maria Miller has been MP for Basingstoke since 2005. As she was born in 1964 she’ll be aware that to David Cameron (born 1966), she has a useful life only to 2018, even if the Tories scrape a win in 2015: Caroline Spelman was sacked in the reshuffle for being too old at 54.
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Filed under Elections, Equality, Politics, Women

BSkyB: What are the Telegraph’s links to Murdoch?

Cast your mind back to the palmy early months of coalition government, back when Andy Coulson was Director of Communications for the government at 10 Downing Street, on £140,000 a year, and Rebekah and Dave could go hacking together without a care in the world.

In mid-June reports confirmed that News Corporation, owned by Rupert Murdoch, was holding talks with BSkyB shareholders with a view to acquire the remaining 61 percent of BSkyB.

By October, a coalition of media organisations including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the the Guardian, the BBC, and Channel 4, were pushing for government intervention. Vince Cable, then Business Secretary, would have got a letter from this coalition making the case that a merger of News Corps, the UK’s largest newspaper group, and BSkyB, the UK’s biggest subscription television service “could have serious and far-reaching consequences for media plurality”.

Vince Cable & Rupert Murdoch
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Filed under Corruption, In The Media

Why is the Telegraph helping Labour get elected?

Lyall Duff thought he’d made his Facebook profile private. The lesson everyone should take from the Telegraph’s “investigative journalism” – finding a few ranty sweary posts and quoting or partially quoting them – is that Facebook is never reliably private.

The SNP have suspended Lyall Duff, but it is too late to take his name off the ballot for Murdostoun ward in North Lanarkshire: the Telegraph waited to disclose Lyall Duff’s posts until after the deadline precisely so that the SNP’s possibilities for damage limitation would be minimal. This will benefit Scottish Labour; they won a majority on North Lanarkshire council in 2007, and half of the seats in the Murdostoun ward. The Telegraph ran another story this morning with an opening:

Labour questioned why the SNP was prepared to pass new legislation cracking down on sectarianism in football matches but has so far refused to expel Lyall Duff. They accused the First Minister of crying “crocodile tears” over the affair.

Why are the Telegraph runing a press campaign to help Scottish Labour win one more seat in a local authority ward in North Lanarkshire?
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Filed under Elections, Healthcare, Women

Abortion

There are a set of moral, ethical, and medical issues around abortion.

[Also about use of Care Quality Commission staff for a politician's personal prejudices. More of that in the update below.]

The Telegraph does not appear to be interested in any of them, in its latest US-style article about “abortion clinics”.

First and most importantly: Is the person who is having the abortion being coerced in any way? It would be immoral and inethical for a doctor to perform an abortion on anyone unless she wants to have her pregnancy terminated.
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Filed under Healthcare, Women

The Tories like the US healthcare system

And Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor at the Telegraph, likes a liar. Let me explain.

The Health and Social Care Bill will become law. The Tory love for the US healthcare system is based on its profitability to people like them rather than to its effectiveness. The Health and Social Care Act is intended to increase the NHS costs and decrease services.
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Filed under Healthcare, Scottish Politics

What should MPs get paid?

According to this very reliable poll at LBC 97.3FM, mostly people feel that MPs should be paid less than what they now get.

Contrast this to the question not asked, could you live on £67 a week? That’s what benefit claimants usually get. Considered simply on straight pound-for-pound dealing, an MP gets over 18 times what a benefit claimant gets. But of course even an honest MP who follows the rules and doesn’t try to jigger the system, can get far more than that – a taxpayer-funded flat in Westminister, handy for Parliament: £400 a month to pay for food, no questions asked: no question of having salary or benefits docked if caught cheating.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, spent thousands on furnishing his London home before “flipping” his Commons allowance to a new property in his Surrey constituency, and claiming £13,000 in moving costs.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, claimed almost £35,000 in two years for mortgage interest payments on a London flat when he owned a house just a few hundred yards away.

Oliver Letwin, Minister of State for Government Policy, claimed more than £2,000 for a leaking pipe to be replaced under his tennis court.

(The Rt Hon. Desmond Swayne, who was in the lowest 10 of MP expenses in 2009 (he said he routinely takes the train into London from his Hampshire constituency after 10am to get the cheapest fare) isn’t a minister – he’s Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, a role which gives him no Ministerial clout but ensures he will be required to vote with and not speak against the Government.)

When he was free to speak, he said: “The world is in a pretty bad state, people starving, homeless, jobless and we members of Parliament are put in a position of influence at this time, and what did we do? We enjoyed the full benefit of our allowances. I suspect that the most ghastly chamber in hell is being reserved for us.”

Aside from nonsense about unpaid MPs, Peter Oborne’s article in the Telegraph on expenses was great.

My response:

If MPs are unpaid, only the independently wealthy can afford to become MPs. Given how lucrative being an MP is if you want it to be, and given how greedy the top 1% are, making the job of representating ordinary people in Parliament one that only the very rich could aspire to would simply ensure that the very rich used it to become mega-rich.

MPs deserve to receive a reasonable salary and have reasonable expenses paid. The salary ought to correspond to what the average person gets paid – I think the median salary for the UK is of the order of £25K a year – and expenses should include two paid assistants, one for the Westminister office and one for the contituency. Good hiring practices for these posts should be followed – no just awarding the job to spouse or offspring. Ex-MPs ought to be banned for up to five years from sitting on the board of any commercial organisation, and for life if they held a Ministerial post.

And fairly obviously, of course expenses should be tracked and accountable in the ordinary way. No one should just get to demand cash without having to show what they spent it on.

It’s reasonable that an MP with a constituency in a distant part of the UK should have a place to stay in London near to Parliament, but the present “second home” system is an invitation to make money. When an MP loses their seat, they should be required to let their Westminster home go to public ownership, not get to keep it as a kind of golden parachute.

How can anyone who’s getting paid £65,000 a year and is so confident of their right to claim benefits on top of that, understand the desperation of someone struggling to survive?

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Filed under Benefits, Politics, Poverty